In The News
This Union City fights back on Labor Day
By Sheila D. Cochran
Every year the Milwaukee Area Labor Council and its affiliated local unions celebrate Labor Day with a parade and festival. Each year takes on a different flavor and focus.
This year is no different -- but no year has been more critical, pivotal or defining.
We, the men and women of organized labor, live and die by organizing. We have fought for eight long and increasingly lonely years against an administration that has declared us the enemy.
With their partners in corporate America – lobbyists of big oil, pharmaceutical companies and pariahs the likes of Wal-Mart – this White House has taken this country on a road so backward it will take us years to recover in the best of circumstances.
On this Labor Day we fight for and remember the attempt to organize Capital Returns, a pharma company so rife with injustice that it continues to be a plantation in our backyard, disgracing and abusing its workers while reaping public tax dollars based on false promises of expanding and bettering inner city lives.
We remember the developers who take tax dollars and pimp this community but refuse to give consideration to UNITE HERE workers who simply ask for the consideration of being union.
We fight for the men and women of Teamsters Local 200 who handle the waste dumped throughout our community only to see their hard-earned
retirement leveled to poverty status.
We fight against WTMJ’s continued reduction and compression of its workforces of IBEW Local 715 and stagehands, an employer that trumpets a “moral responsibility to it stockholders” but shamefully does not include fair bargaining with its workers.
We fight for and remember the pilots and flight attendants at Midwest Airlines who continue to fly without certainty of any future employer, working hard for one who has already cut their forces almost in half.
We fight for the men and women who everyday go to work and don’t return because they died on job – nearly 5,500 in the US in 2007.
This year we unite and put our issues forward.
Milwaukee is a Union City, and those of us who work hard for this community are sick and tired of the continued disrespect of workers’ rights we see day after day.
We cannot and will not continue to stand quietly by while businesses lobby every government from Congress to City Hall to push anti-worker and anti union
agendas and deride any legislation that seeks improvement for the middle class.
No more, not this time, enough is enough.
We listen year after year as rightwing radio hosts punish this community further and further, driving us back to the caves and subjecting captive listeners to a monopolized media that in this town disrespects labor, workers and anyone who dares to speak up against economic injustice.
This is the time and Labor Day will be the day that we make sure our voices will be heard.
When we gather this year at Zeidler Union Square Park we will take on the issues of our brothers and sisters. “No Justice No Peace” has long been a battle cry, but this year we want all our union brothers and sisters to forcefully engage these issues, bring their banners and bring their stories.
This is our affirmed solidarity:
We will not relent in the struggles that continue to plague us in a community that we helped build.
We will push for only those candidates who fight for our right to organize.
We will not be beholden to those who do not support the human principles that underlie our existence.
The author is chief financial officer of the Milwaukee Area Labor Council as well a chief commander of the Sept. 1 Labor Day festivities.